• The Order of Time

    https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780593321201. this is weird


    To be perfectly honest I have no business reviewing this book because I mostly didn’t understand large chunks of it. I also didn’t particularly *want* to understand it, so it was hard for me to engage.

    I think this book attempted to explain the physics of time. What is time? What ISN’T it? How do we experience it, and how is that different from what it really is?

    What the book never really did was convince me that any of it mattered. I’m still going to have a meeting tomorrow at 9:00, regardless of whether the clock is merely a construct.

    I would say that I felt like I was in a boring high school class, but that’s not quite right. There was an elegance to this book that isn’t in most science classes. The author references classical literature and philosophy, in addition to math and science. There’s a hefty infusion of the liberal arts in this physics lab, which is kind of neat.

    Part of me says that I would recommend this book to somebody who liked physics and math, but I don’t think that’s quite right because I think they’d find it simplistic. But I wouldn’t recommend this book to somebody who DOESN’T like physics and math (e.g., me) because they’ll be left feeling bored and stupid (e.g., also me.) So I’m not sure who I would recommend this to, but I guess there must be a lot of people who would like it, because it’s a bestseller.

  • This Time Tomorrow

    https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780593321201. this is weird


    A 40 year old woman named Alice discovers she can go back in time and relive one specific day from her teenage years. When she returns to present day, her reality is altered based on the choices she made during her trip to the past.

    I thought the author really wished this were vastly different from other back in time/body swapping stories, but it just wasn’t. Alice kept thinking, “but in 13 Going On 30 Jennifer Garner never dealt with [insert inane scenario].” Meanwhile *I* thought, “In 13 Going On 30 [inane scenario] is exactly what she dealt with. Repeatedly. This is no different”

    Beyond a bit of a lack of creativity and self-awareness around the basic premise, I enjoyed the poignancy. There’s a retrospective we all have about our teenage choices, and it was interesting to explore the “what ifs?” through fiction. While it was an easy, quick read, I thought the author made some really clever strategic decisions regarding how the protagonist handled interpersonal relationships, and it made the book feel less like a fluffy Back to the Future and more like a coming of age classic, except with Alice being given her opportunity for personal growth after she thought she had pretty much settled into adulthood.

    Not the best book on the planet, but I enjoyed my time with it and little pieces of it are sticking in my brain.

  • Fingersmith

    https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780593321201. this is weird


    I have no idea where I got this recommendation, but I put it on hold at the library and started reading it without knowing a single thing about it. (Very unlike me.)

    It read like a Dickens or a Bronte book, both in terms of plot/setting and writing style. The dialog had that sort of stiltedness that makes you wonder if people actually talked like that or if authors just didn’t represent regular speech very well. (e.g. “‘Oh! Oh!’ I cried. ‘What am I to do now?’” I have never known anyone who cried, “Oh! Oh!” But neither ‘ave I lived in Victorian England, old boy, ‘ave I?)

    Once I got into the style of it, though, I was fascinated by it. The plot twisted and turned and went sideways into some entirely unexpected places. It’s about thieves and con artists and lesbians and creepy old men and people doing good things and terrible things.

    This one stuck with me for awhile, and kept me hooked. I took it on a business trip, and while I was at a reception drinking other people’s liquor I wanted to be back in my hotel room reading it.

  • Mayor of the Universe

    https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780593321201. this is weird


    I like Lorna Landvik, but this book confused me. It was about a lonely actuary who gets visited by aliens who whisk him around to live in various times and as various people. It’s a weird plot, no matter what.

    I think there was kind of supposed to be a moral to the story? Some deep lesson about being a human, maybe? But the moral was saccharine and obvious and trite and applied with a pretty heavy hand. Or maybe the moral was *supposed* to be all of those things and the book was just supposed to be fun. But it wasn’t that fun. It was fun like somebody else’s birthday party, as opposed to being exhilarating like your own. At times it was a little cringey. Lorna Landvik, perhaps unsurprisingly, doesn’t have quite the right voice for aliens.

    This book was entirely non-offensive. It was not upsetting. It was not insightful. It was not exciting. It was not mundane. This was the oatmeal of books. Warmed the belly and filled me up but was nothing I was very enthusiastic about.

    Read this if you are stressed out and hate the world and don’t want to work very hard.

  • Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow

    https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780593321201. this is weird


    This is the story of two kids who forged an unlikely friendship in the 80s playing Nintendo. They grew apart as they aged, but reconnected during college and beyond to make the first of many successful video games as partners.

    I pre-ordered this book knowing nothing about it because Gabrielle Zevin wrote The Storied Life of AJ Fikry: a favorite of mine. In Tomorrow, as in AJ Fikry, her writing is beautiful. It’s musical without being difficult and evocative without being sappy. This book was much darker than AJ Fikry; while I was reading it I always felt an undercurrent of sadness. But after finishing and viewing the book as a whole, I no longer feel despondency. Instead I’ve realized it’s a story built upon friendship and love, both of which are portrayed truthfully, with the fluffy feel-good parts never eclipsing the reality of human relationships. I actually now reflect on it as a fairly joyful book.

    It’s the first time I’ve felt like someone was able to articulate the artistic merits of video games and how they should hold space in the literary and art worlds. I also valued a female technologist as protagonist, and the team dynamics were spot on: a small group of people pouring their souls into making something they believe in, and living with the effects on the world afterward.

    At times I was waiting for something to happen, and a big KABLAM “something” never did. But the continued, kablam-less story kept me transfixed because of its sameness. Like a Roguelike Metroidvania game, the more things stayed the same, the more interesting they became.